New breast cancer findings may help with treatment
A breast cancer study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday concludes that there to be 10 sub-types of breast cancer based on genetic “fingerprints” which allows for treatment to target a patient’s specific needs in the future.
It is the largest international study of breast cancer tissue, led by scientists at the Cancer Research UK in Cambridge.
“Our results will pave the way for doctors in the future to diagnose the type of breast cancer a woman has, the types of drugs that will work, and those that won’t, in a much more precise way than is currently possible,” Professor Carlos Caldas, senior group leader at Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute, said in The Press Association. “This research won’t affect women diagnosed with breast cancer today. But in the future, breast cancer patients will receive treatment targeted to the genetic fingerprint of their tumour.”
Researchers explained that the combined analysis of DNA and RNA helped understand the identity of oncogenes, the driver of cancer, and genes that protect against cancer. This thus helped them to classify 10 new sub-types based on gene activity rather than current tests, which look for signs of oestrogen receptors of the cell surface receptor HER2, Reuters reported.
The study “changes the way we think about breast cancer – no longer as one disease, but actually as 10 quite distinct diseases depending on which genes are really switched on and which ones aren’t,” Harpal Kumar, CRUK’s chief executive said.
While the new classification system is a major discovery for cancer drug treatment, there is still much to be done. The next stage will be to identify the behaviors of tumours in each category.